Iosif Doliner was a Ukrainian Jew interned in the Syretsky Camp, 5 km from Kiev. On 18 August, he was taken from there to Babi Yar, a place where tens of thousands of Jews are said to have been shot and buried by the Germans in mass graves in late September 1941 (see the entry on Babi Yar). He was interrogated by the NKGB on 4 February 1943.
Among other things, Doliner stated that he and 99 other slave-labor inmates were put in chains and had to exhume mass graves and burn the extracted bodies on pyres. Those pyres were circular, two meters high, and 2-8 meters in diameter. Each contained up to 2,000 corpses.
A pyre of 8 meters diameter has a surface area of some 50 square meters. This means that there would have been 40 bodies per square meter. Each corpse requires 250 kg of freshly cut wood (see the entry on open-air incinerations). The density of green wood is roughly 0.9 tons per m³, and its stacking density on a pyre is 1.4 (40% for air and flames to go through). This means that the wood required to burn 40 bodies would have stacked up to a height of some 15 meters. Adding the bodies into this would have resulted in a height of some 20 meters – not two meters, as Doliner claimed. It would have been impossible to build such a tall pyre, and also impossible to burn it down without it collapsing and spilling burning wood and corpses all over the place.
After the pyres had burned down, the bones were allegedly crushed to powder with pestles, and the resulting powder scattered. However, for this to work, all the remains of a pyre had to be sifted for unburned remains. Wood-fired pyres burn unevenly and leave behind lots of unburned wood pieces, charcoal, and incompletely burned body parts, not just ashes and bones (80% of leftovers would have been from wood, not corpses). Incompletely burned wood and human remains could not have been crushed. If 100,000 bodies were burned, then several thousand metric tons of cremation leftovers had to be processed. Just this job would have required hundreds of men to complete in time.
At the end of this alleged activity, Doliner claimed, the rails, bars and stones used to build the pyres were buried in the ravine. However, no such items were ever found at Babi Yar.
Cremating an average human body during open-air incinerations requires some 250 kg of freshly cut wood. Cremating 100,000 bodies thus requires some 25,000 metric tons of wood. This would have required the felling of all trees growing in a 50-year-old spruce forest covering almost 56 hectares of land, or some 125 American football fields. An average prisoner is rated at being able to cut some 0.63 metric tons of fresh wood per workday. To cut this amount of wood within five weeks (35 days) that this operation supposedly lasted would have required a work force of some 1,134 dedicated lumberjacks just to cut the wood. Doliner claimed his unit consisted only of 100 inmates, all busy digging out mass graves, extracting bodies, building pyres, sifting through ashes, crushing bones, and scattering the resulting powder. Doliner says nothing about where the firewood came from.
Doliner moreover claimed that every day “5-6 gas vans full of asphyxiated people” were brought, who were also burned. Often, these people were still alive, hence thrown into the fire still alive. However, considering that the front was getting very close to Kiev during September 1943, it is unlikely that anyone would have operated gas vans in Kiev’s vicinity. All this apart from the fact that gas vans are a figment of Soviet atrocity propaganda (see the entry on gas vans).